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We've got nothing to hide: Russell

The Consumers' Institute is being criticised for giving investment advice to the public without providing proper disclosure, just months after it canned advisers for the same thing.of

Tuesday, October 19th 1999, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Online sharebrokers compared The Consumers' Institute is being criticised for giving investment advice to the public without providing proper disclosure, just months after it canned advisers for the same thing.

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In its last two issues Consumer has done tests on a range of managed funds and concluded each article with a short list of specific products which "met our criteria".

"Consumer made recommendations and provided advice. While it may not have been to a specific individual it was intended to be used as a basis for individuals to make a savings decision," actuary Michael Chamberlain says.

"Good practice, if for no other reason, should require Consumer to disclose its experience and qualifications to make these recommendations," he says.

Consumers' Institute chief executive David Russell says he is quite happy for the organisation to comply with the disclosure regulations, if that's what people demand.

"We have absolutely nothing to hide."

He's quite happy to tell people how long the institute has been around and that it hasn't gone to jail nor been convicted on fraud charges, and he's happy to disclose the qualifications of the staff who compiled the articles.

"It's absolute crap to talk about disclosure. We clearly state the basis of our assessment and the criteria used.

Russell says the criteria used in the articles and the methodology is disclosed.

Of financial advisers complaining about the work Consumer is doing, including its highly-critical survey of advisers earlier this year, he says: "They're smarting. They deserve everything they get."

"They don't like us coming onto their patch," he says.

Russell says he expects complaints from advisers who sell products for companies which don't make Consumer's list as it's bad for their business.

"People selling these funds will do anything they can to knock us off our perch," he says.

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